Knives are nice, but what about a knife with pliers, scissors, bit drivers, and maybe even a nail file? If that sounds like multitasking heaven to you, you’re not alone. Multitools have become incredibly popular in the world of everyday carry, with brands like Leatherman, Gerber, and Victorinox leading the charge.
Still, this popularity comes at a cost. Cheap, poorly built multitools are everywhere, from store-brand models to souvenir garbage. Rather than sink your money into something that’ll break the first time you try to turn a screw or snip a piece of wire, you need something that’ll live up to the hardworking ethos multitools seem to project.
And while the aforementioned big three brands have a lot of quality products, there are a few stinkers even in their lineups. To help you sort the garbage from the gold, we’ve assembled a list of multitools, balancing quality, versatility, tool count, and price point
Check out the links to our individual picks below, or keep scrolling to find the best multitool for you. At the end of our list, be sure to check out our comprehensive buyer’s guide along with our helpful comparison chart.
The Best Multitools of 2023
- Best Overall Multitool: Leatherman Wave+
- Best Budget Multitool: Leatherman Sidekick
- Best Single-Piece Multitool: Gerber Armbar Drive
- Best Travel Multitool: Leatherman Style PS
- Best Luxury Multitool: Victorinox Spirit MX
- Best Survival Multitool: Leatherman Signal
- Best Keychain Multitool: Victorinox Rambler
- Number of tools 18
- Weight 8.5 oz./241 g
- Closed length 4"/10 cm
- Open length 6.25"/15.87 cm
- Width 1.2"/3.05 cm
- Unmatched tool selection
- Quality construction
- Great warranty
- Slightly heavy
- Pocket clip not included
- Number of tools 14
- Weight 7 oz./198.4 g.
- Closed length 3.8″/9.7 cm
- Open length 6″/15.2 cm
- Width 1.27″/3.2 cm
- 420HC Stainless Steel
- Solid in-hand ergonomics
- Included pocket clip
- Same 25-Year Warranty as the Wave+
- Reduced toolset
- Lack of replaceable wire cutters
- No swappable bit driver
- Innovative design
- Good screwdriver
- Inconsistent QA/QC
- Cheap steel
- Number of tools 9
- Weight 1.58 oz./44.7 g
- Closed length 2.9″/7.5 cm
- Open length 4.5″/11.43 cm
- Width 0.8″/2 cm
- TSA Flight-safe
- Snappy action
- Not suited for large jobs
- Beware carrying on international travel
- Number of tools 19
- Weight 7.5 oz/212.6 g
- Closed length 4.5”/11.43 cm
- Open length 6.75”/17.14 cm
- Width 1.5”
- Integrated carabiner and sharpener
- Outstanding fit and finish
- Included emergency whistle
- Range of color choices
- Questionable hammer/fire-starting tools
- High price when compared to the Wave+
- Half-serrated blade feels a little redundant
- Massive toolset
- Outstanding fit and finish
- Excellent pocket clip
- Swiss Army Steel
- Not as affordable as other picks
- Small-ish scissors
- No swappable bits/eyeglass drive
- Number of tools 7
- Weight 5 oz./142 g
- Closed length 4″/10 cm
- Open length 6″/15.24 cm
- Width 1.24″/3.15 cm
- Easy-open knife
- Pocket clip
- Lightweight capability
- Minimal tool selection
- Compact size
- Classic design
- Excellent tool selection
- Lack of pliers
- Too small for large tasks
Multitool Comparison Chart
|Multitool||Price||Number of tools||Weight||Closed length||Open length||Width|
|Leatherman Wave+||$120||18||8.5 oz.||4″||6.25″||1.2″|
|Leatherman Sidekick||$70||14||7 oz||3.8″||6″||1.27″|
|Gerber Armbar Drive||$45||8||3.1 oz.||N/A||6.5″||.7″|
|Leatherman Style PS||$35||9||1.58 oz.||2.9″||4.5″||0.8″|
|Victorinox Spirit MX||$164||24||7.7 oz.||4.1”||N/A||1.5″|
|Leatherman Signal||$140||19||7.5 oz.||4.5”||4.5”||6.75”|
|Victorinox Rambler||$38||10||1.1 oz.||2.3″||N/A||0.4″|
|Leatherman Skeletool CX||$90||7||5.0 oz.||4″||6″||1.24″|
Why You Should Trust Us
Multitools have been a regular part of our kits for as long as we can remember. Beyond several lifetimes’ worth of experience at camp and on the trails, various members of the GearJunkie staff have worked everywhere from retail and the wilderness to construction and power plants.
All the while, there’s been a multitool at the ready. We’ve purchased, broken, and generally abused Leathermans, Gerbers, and many of the knockoffs in between.
That’s the thing about multitools — there’s no better way to test their do-anything ethos than to put them to work. And once you’ve broken down an electrical box or assembled a household of furniture with a Wave+, you get to know the tool inside and out.
Buyers Guide: How to Choose a Multitool
This one should be a no-brainer. Do you spend a lot of time prying and pinching? Get the tool with the best pair of pliers. Are you more focused on snipping and cutting? Leatherman offers several models with replaceable wire cutters and multiple blades.
But sometimes, things you didn’t anticipate become the most valuable. Take the eyeglass screwdriver on the Wave+. This precision instrument has seen a ton of use, serving as the perfect complement to the rest of the kit.
You want to pick the multitool with the highest number of features that you can see yourself using. While the Wave+ will likely be the best combination for most folks, something like the Gerber Center-Drive ($130) might be better if you find yourself assembling or disassembling screwed components on a regular basis.
This isn’t as simple, as heavier equals heavy duty. On the contrary, sometimes tools with lighter materials can, in fact, be more robust. Take your average big-box store’s brand. You’re likely getting the cheapest steel possible, which results in a fairly hefty package. But the first time you try to use the built-in screwdriver, you’re as likely to strip the head as you are to complete your task.
Compare this with a lightweight item like the Leatherman Skeletool. Not only is its driver much stronger, but it’s also replaceable. And because the whole tool is easier to carry, you’re more likely to have it on you when the need arises.
This is directly related to the weight consideration. When shopping for a multitool, your objective should be to get the best components possible within your given budget. This is one of the places where Leatherman shines.
Though they do offer budget models with semi-questionable steels, the big names (Wave+, Sidekick, Wingman, Signal, Skeletool, etc.) all feature 420HC steel or better on their blades and components. Gerber also offers 420HC on the Center-Drive, and while Victorinox doesn’t go out of the way to put a label on its metal, we’ve come to trust in the provenance and performance of the Swiss Army’s INOX-branded steel.
If you can help it, don’t settle for no-name “stainless steel,” especially on cheaper multitools hailing from Amazon or the big-box stores. These start with poor materials and end with slipshod construction.
By skimping with one of these purchases, you’re asking to be let down when the need for the multitool arises. Named steels and trusted brands are your friends. The bargain bin and deal-of-the-day offerings are not.
Though often relegated to the back end of the shopping process, portability is a critical piece of your decision. If your multitool is difficult to carry, it doesn’t matter how many bells and whistles are crammed between the handles.
Belt pouches, such as those that come with the Leatherman Wave+ and Gerber Center-Drive, are great for people working in a blue-collar environment. No one at the job site or shop will look twice at that branded bit of canvas at your side.
But in an office environment? While your coworkers may love you when it comes to putting together office furniture, they might be a bit weirded out by a sheath dangling from your belt. If you intend to carry the multitool on your person, you’d be better suited to something with a pocket clip. This is where the Skeletool, Spirit MX, or either of our Best Budget picks really get their chance to shine. Or, if you’re looking for something even smaller, the Squirt PS4 is a great keychain option.
This is a vital consideration for anyone putting their multitool to its intended purpose. If you’re going to be cutting, prying, driving, and pinching with it long enough, even the best-made product can wear out. That’s where guarantees like Leatherman’s 25-year warranty come into play.
As mentioned above, I snapped the pliers off my first Style PS opening an electrical box, and Leatherman sent me a new one. When my Wave+ developed a problem with its main blade, I opened a warranty ticket through Leatherman’s website, mailed back the tool, and had a brand new one on my belt by the following week.
As much as I gush about Leatherman, it’s not the only game in town. Gerber and Victorinox each offer limited lifetime warranties. That’s not something you’re going to get from the no-name brands floating around Amazon and Harbor Freight.
Yes, absolutely. Dollar for dollar, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better bang for your buck in the world of everyday gear. While fancy pocket knives are fun, multitools offer a wealth of utility in addition to cutting power.
And if your budget allows, this is one area where you’ll be rewarded by spending a bit more. The gap in quality of materials and construction between a full-size $40 multitool and a $120 Leatherman Wave+ is vast.
That’s a tricky question. As you’ll see in the list above, the Wave+, Skeletool, and Style PS hold prominent places on our list. Their selection, quality, and warranty pretty much cement Leatherman as king.
But if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path, both Gerber and Victorinox make some quality offerings. The Gerber Center-Drive and Victorinox Rambler are great, though they sit at opposite sides of the spectrum.
Our current favorite is the Victorinox Rambler. If you’re after something that pries, pinches, and flies (i.e. no blade), the Style PS could also be the way to go. Its bladeless setup makes it acceptable to take through the airport. And another editor proclaims his love for the Gerber Shard, so long as you keep it outside the pocket.
But if you need something with a blade or just have a soft spot for the classics, the Rambler is a great option. It adds some great functionality to the iconic Victorinox keychain tool without much additional price or weight
If the blade is the most-used piece on your multitool, it’s hard to go wrong with the Skeletool CX. This upgraded model offers 154CM steel, a significant upgrade from the standard 420HC. And while some folks might like the idea of a partially serrated blade, these really aren’t the best choice for serious slicing.
That’s another reason we’re fans of the CX’s plain, unbroken edge. The blade is also readily accessible, thanks to its position on the outside of the folded handles. Add in a one-handed opening and a solid pocket clip, and the Skeletool is easily the best option, followed by our Luxury pick, the Victorinox Spirit MX. But if you’re not interested in a pair of pliers, the Gerber Armbar is another interesting option. Built completely around the framelock pocket knife, this is a more budget-conscious take on a blade-forward design.
As many as you can fit! But seriously, this depends on your use case. We prefer to have a mix. That’s one of the reasons the Wave+ tops our list. Its serrated blade and saw provide a wonderful complement to the plain-edge 420HC found in its main cutting tool.
But if you mostly spend your time slicing through cardboard, the single edges of the Skeletool CX may be more your speed. Or are you one of those people who tackle a lot of cordage or rope? In that case, partial serrations such as those on the Wave+ or Center-Drive will definitely come in handy.
The Leatherman Signal nabs the top spot when it comes to “Survival” multitools, due to the inclusion of its many outdoor-friendly features. But if overall weight is a consideration, something like the Skeletool CX or perhaps the Style PS would be a nice ounce-saving choice.
This wasn’t a quick recommendation, to be honest. I went around for quite a while on whether or not the Signal was a gimmick or genuinely useful backpacking tool. And frankly, I’ve settled somewhere in the middle. The overall toolkit is wonderful, and at least half of the outdoors-focused tools (emergency whistle, sharpening system) work well, though the ferro rod and hammer are less than ideal. But I’ve genuinely come around on the Signal, and feel that buyers would be well-served by its charms if the weight of something like the Wave+ is out of the question.
Again, it’s Leatherman. The brand’s canvas sheaths have been more or less bulletproof over several years of use, without so much as a rip or frayed seam. These ride comfortably on the belt and can be purchased in a few different configurations. Some of these go so far as to include additional space for driver extensions.
There are also several aftermarket options available, including some in leather. Gerber’s sheaths are also serviceable if the Armbar is more your speed.